Dear State Legislator,
I am a proud constituent of state name who is writing to ask you to consider modifying the draconian and unconstitutional laws concerning Registered Sex Offenders. These extremely harsh laws are not effective at protecting children, and have extremely negative and serious consequences for the approximately 600,000 registrants, and the over 2 million family members of these registrants. This results in a large population of people who want very much to lead healthy, productive, law-abiding lives, but find it impossible to do so, due to society’s unfair characterization of every registered sex-offender as a high-risk sexual predator waiting to attack their children.
Surely, removing all hope and disenfranchising the entire population of sex-offenders and their families is not healthy for anyone - not for those directly affected, not for society at large, and it certainly does not keep children safer.
According to the US Department of Justice, overall recidivism rates among sex-offenders are among the LOWEST among any groups - typically it is only 5-10%. It is also well known that the vast majority (commonly acknowledged at over 90%) of child sexual abuse is committed by a family member or someone known to the child - NOT a registered sex-offender. The current atmosphere of hysteria and fear surrounding sex-offenders clouds the underlying issues, and results in NOT protecting children because we are ignoring over 90% of all abuse cases. This does not seem to make good sense or public policy.
I urge you to reconsider the way in which
The following page presents some facts and statistics that suggest that laws such as the Wetterling Act, Megan’s Law, the Adam Walsh Act, and Residency Restrictions are in fact counter-productive and do not serve their intended purpose of protecting children from dangerous sexual predators.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
your name here
A Few Facts and Statistics about Sex Offenders
• Megan's Law and the Wetterling Act were created on the assumption that recidivism is high for Sex Offenders. However, the recidivism for sex offenders is reported to be lower than that of any other class of offenders. The United States Department of Justice indicated that the recidivism rate for Sex Offenders is only 3.5% meaning that 96.5% of those who are on the registry are not likely to re-offend. (CSOM, 2007; Harris & Hanson, 2004; State of New York Department of Corrections, 2001; USDOJ, 2001Gwyn, 2007; Huenke, O'Connell, Price, & Weidein-Gist, 2007; Ohio Public Safety, 2006; Stalans, Seng, & Yarnold, 2002; Valentine & Huebner, 2006; White-Cerns, McKelvie, & Cohn, 2007).
• The List of Registered Sex Offenders creates the myth of "stranger danger" but nearly all authorities agree that 90-95% of sex offenses are committed by someone known to the victim.
• There is not one empirical study suggesting the effectiveness of these laws. In fact, most peer reviewed studies examining the effectiveness of Megan's Law conclude it has no impact on the recidivism rates, and is therefore ineffective at preventing new sexually-based crimes (Corrigan, 2006; Pawson, 2002; Toft, 2007; Wakefield, 2006; Welchans, 2005; Zevitz, et al., 200).
• Residency restrictions do not work. In Minnesota, the Department of Corrections found that between 1990 and 2002, of the 3,166 sex offenders released from state prisons, only 224 of these were returned to prison for a new sex crime through 2006. The report contains the statement, "Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law."
• Public access to the sex-offender registries makes no sense without an individualized risk-assessment of each individual on the list. Public access should only be granted to those offenders who pose a significant danger to the public. The majority of registrants do not post a significant danger and should not have their private information on display.
• The consequences of these harsh laws for the Sex Offenders who have served their time and paid their dues include being denied employment and housing, being segregated from their communities, being forced to leave their families. This naturally destroys any hope the offenders and their families had for rebuilding their lives in a positive and productive manner.
• The majority of sex offenders are NOT high-risk, violent predators.
• The majority of sex offenders are low-risk, whose risk can be managed and reduced even further through re-integration into society, a stable work and home environment, and appropriate therapy. Disenfranchising and ostracizing all offenders and their families clearly makes for a more unstable and dangerous population.